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May 27, 2024

Will Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson become the first African-American woman on the Supreme Court?


“The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience, and integrity. And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court,” said President Biden during his campaign for president. 

If Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is approved by the Senate for her nomination, she will make national history in becoming the first African American woman to sit on the highest court of the United States of America.

In the wake of the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, the competition for a new supreme court justice began, and initially, 5 candidates were being considered. Then, President Biden selected Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson who has two very important things going for her. Because of her relatively short tenure in the appellate court, Judge Jackson hasn’t yet presided over controversial or politically charged cases and is generally respected by both progressives and conservatives.

Judge Jackson grew up in Miami, Florida, and graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School. She took debate classes where she excelled to the highest level participating in the second-largest high school debate tournament in the United States – the National Catholic Forensic League Championships in New Orleans. She then attended Harvard University where she majored in government. From 1992-1993, in between college and graduate school, Judge Jackson worked as a researcher and staff reporter for Time magazine. She went on to attend Harvard Law School and was supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. 

Judge Jackson began her career working as a law clerk and went on to hold several private-sector jobs including a three year stretch at Morrison and Foerster LLP. In 2012, President Obama nominated her for a judgeship in the district court in D.C., and in May of 2013, she was sworn in by Justice Stephen Breyer and served on this court until 2021. Judge Jackson was then nominated by President Biden to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit and was officially promoted during the summer. 

Three of Judge Jackson’s lifetime friends for 30+ years, all of whom are successful in their respective fields, have cheered her on in celebration of her tremendous success. Antoinette Coakley, a law professor at Northeastern School of Law, and former college roommate of Jackson while at Harvard University, explained her vision for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson from their college days. She said, “I remember years ago when we were in our college room, our college dorm, saying to Ketanji, ‘You are going to be the first Black woman on the US Supreme Court.’ You are going to be it,’ … It was that clear back then.” (Suzanne Yeo, 2022, ABC news)

“Judge Jackson has already inspired young Black women like my daughters to set their sights higher, and her confirmation will help them believe they can be anything they want to be,” said former President Barack Obama. 

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s commitment to her career is an inspiration. She is an extremely accomplished, yet humble woman. “As I have pursued this professional path, and if I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded, will inspire future generations of Americans,” said Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. 

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